Friday, July 1, 2016

Booknotes: Beyond the Gray Leaf

New Arrival:
Beyond the Gray Leaf: The Life and Poems of J.P. Irvine by Dustin Renwick (Fleetwing Books, 2016).

It's probably safe to say the Illinois poet J.P. Irvine is virtually unknown today. During the Civil War, he was employed as a government clerk in Washington, D.C. and local newspapers there and major literary magazines published his work. On Decoration Day in 1873, he read his poem "Unknown" to a large crowd of celebrants, including President Grant. His one published book, The Green Leaf and the Gray, was issued in 1891, and didn't include "Unknown." According to author Dustin Renwick, Irvine "excelled" in his Civil War poetry, and most of his best work existed outside the 40 pieces contained in the poet's lone publication. Renwick eventually uncovered more than 80 Irvine poems, and his book Beyond the Gray Leaf "offers a curated collection of Irvine's poetry paired with the historical and biographical context of his life."

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